More Railroad Poetry -- Engineer

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Fri Jan 1 16:26:26 EST 2021

>From the *Salem Sentinel*, 9 May 1899.

Bruce in Blacksburg
It is hard to say who has a good job on the railroad. Everybody thinks that
everybody else has a better job than himself. We all have to work on
Sunday. We do not like to work on the Sabbath but cannot help ourselves; it
is work on the Sabbath or not work at all with us, but it is hoped that the
time will soon come when the men in train service will have the privilege
of spending their Sundays at home. We all have troubles of our own, and
below will be found a few of an engineer’s troubles expressed.


An engineer has a hard old time,
His troubles never cease,
His face and hands are black as tar,
His pants are out of crease.

His eyes and ears are full of sparks,
His throat is parched and dry,
His bands have blisters on the palm,
He is greasy enough to fry.

He rarely gets a bite to eat
Of good and wholesome food,
He never gets a good, fresh drink Of water,
pure and good.

He never gets a whole night’s sleep,
Unless he is suspended,
He gets in scraps and quarrels
And never is defended.

They call him out at any time,
He dares not disobey,
He must get up and hustle out
Or they will stop his pay.

He must go out and push a week,
And then take out a crew,
He must not let his engine slip,
And must not burst a flue.

He starts from Roanoke on a run,
Bluefield his destination,
With sixty empties for a tail,
He starts with animation.

In Roanoke yard he slips and slides,
Until, in desperation,
He pours some sand upon the rail
And starts for Glenvar station.

He has a brand new fireman,
Who is on his second trip,
He is as green as any grass,
And is shooting off his lip.

The conductor is as slow as itch,
The brakemen dumb as geese,
The engine no account at all,
The steam makes no increase.

He stops at Salem water tank,
And puts the blower on,
His steam gone down to ninety-five,
His water is all gone.

Once more he starts upon his trip,
The side rods reverberating.
He hopes to find at Glenvar tower
A pusher engine waiting.

The pusher is on the mountain,
He has to go to Balls,
He drags them very slowly,
At Dry Hollow bridge he stalls.

He puts the blower on again,
And quickly oils around,
He waits an hour and a half,
Before the pusher comes down.

The Seventy-One couples up to him,
Her flues are leaking badly,
Her fire is dirty as can be,
The engineer feels sadly.

And now they make another start,
Their hopes fast dying down,
At Elliston they take side track,
To let eighty-five around.

So now we leave these engineers,
They have troubles of their own,
They must wait for ninety-two,
Their feelings are forlorn.

We leave them with their troubles,
Yet gladly would continue,
But the same old story goes
To Bluefield, West Virginia.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list